Welcome to the 11th edition of Waiver Wired for the 2016 season. The byes are mercifully nearing an end, with zero teams off next week before Cleveland and Tennessee take the final breaks of the season in Week 13. The Falcons, Broncos, Jets, and Chargers are off this week, however, leaving Matt Ryan and Philip Rivers owners in a bind with little quarterback talent out there on the wire in most leagues. Unless Blake Bortles is available or Tyrod Taylor was dropped over the bye, the quarterback spot in the lineup could look ugly this week.

With few injuries announced on Sunday and several players getting back on the field or close to a return, the injury situation looked like it was taking a turn for the better, but that changed Monday with the news Rob Gronkowski suffered a chest injury which might be a punctured lung Sunday night against the Seahawks. He was able to play through the injury because he is not of this world, but it sounds like Gronkowski will miss at least this week’s game against the 49ers, which the Patriots should be able to win handily anyway. Martellus Bennett is a must-add in the 30 percent of Yahoo leagues he is available.

The only other major injury concern is to Jordan Howard, who Bears coach John Fox said suffered either an ankle or Achilles’ injury Sunday. Howard himself said after the game he did not suffer an injury, but he did limp off after one of just two second-half carries. With the Bears guarding injury information like it is the key to Skynet taking control, Howard’s status likely will not be known until Wednesday at the earliest, making Jeremy Langford an add in most leagues.

There was another huge fantasy bomb dropped on Monday when news came out that Alshon Jeffery will serve a four-game suspension for violating the PED policy. The Bears were already terrible on offense, and this will not make things any better. Cameron Meredith now looks poised for a big workload along with Zach Miller while Eddie Royal and Marquess Wilson (PUP) could carve out some value as well.

Jeffery is not eligible to return until Week 15, and it will be tough to trust him in the semi-finals of the playoffs in his first game back. He does have the upside in what should be a good matchup with the Packers to hold if possible, especially if he can slot into a reserve spot, but getting to the playoffs is more important than trying to hold Jeffery for a potential semi-final game.

As always, the drop list consists of players who are no longer must-owns, recommended adds are available in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues, the watch list consists of players who are worthy of a roster spot if possible, and deep cuts are players owned in five percent or less of Yahoo leagues.

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The Drop List
QB: Carson Wentz
RB: 
Jerick McKinnon, Matt Jones
WR: 
Quincy Enunwa, Sammie Coates
TE: 
Gary Barnidge

Wentz was my favorite streamer last week, but, despite playing well, he did not put up many fantasy points in a run-first gameplan. Philly might not be able to execute the same strategy this week in Seattle, but Wentz will not be worth starting in a terrible spot and is not good enough to stash on the bench. McKinnon is in a three-man timeshare on one of the worst rushing teams of all time. Jones was a healthy scratch this week, and Rob Kelley did not give the coaching staff any reason to change that moving forward. Enunwa can be dropped over the bye week, and it will take several good performances for him to get back any trust. I screwed up with Coates last week because I did not think the Steelers would bench their only viable option opposite Antonio Brown. They clearly believe Cobi Hamilton can fill that role. Cleveland’s offense appears to be in freefall, and Barnidge has four catches for 31 yards total the last two games. He still has yet to score this season.

 

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Quarterbacks
1. Colin Kaepernick
2. Alex Smith

Running Backs
1. Rob Kelley
2. James Starks
3. C.J. Prosise
4. Thomas Rawls
5. Jeremy Langford
6. Kenneth Dixon
7. Bilal Powell

Wide Receivers
1. Cameron Meredith
2. Michael Floyd
3. J.J. Nelson
4. Tyreek Hill
5. Sammy Watkins
6. Tyler Lockett
7. Ted Ginn
8. Robert Woods
9. Eli Rogers

Tight Ends
1. C.J. Fiedorowicz
2. Will Tye
3. Jack Doyle
4. Vernon Davis
5. Lance Kendricks

Defense/Special Teams
1. Oakland Raiders
2. Miami Dolphins
3. New York Giants
Looking Ahead: San Diego Chargers

Kickers
1. Matt Prater
2. Nick Novak
3. Chris Boswell
Looking Ahead: Chris Boswell

QUARTERBACKS
1. Colin Kaepernick, 49ers – Owned in 12 percent of Yahoo leagues
More than any other year, the quarterback position has really turned into a case of the haves and the have-nots, with a large gap between the Andy Dalton-s and the Carson Wentz-s of the world. Blake Bortles would easily be the best streaming option this week against the Lions, but even he has managed to stick above the 50-percent threshold for this column, although ownership is low enough on Bortles, Tyrod Taylor, and even Kirk Cousins that readers in need of quarterback help should check to see if they are available. That clear ownership split leaves us in a situation where Kaepernick is clearly the best streaming option this week. He actually played okay against the Cardinals, he is always going to contribute points with his legs, and the Patriots defense has struggled against quarterbacks. It is a risky play, but Kap is the best option this week.
Recommendation: Streaming option in 12-team leagues.

2. Alex Smith, Chiefs – Owned in 25 percent of Yahoo leagues
Smith is not a much better option than Bradford below, but at least he has a good matchup. Smith was dreadful in his return to the lineup against the Panthers last week, missing at least a couple touchdowns before being bailed out by his defense. The Bucs give up points to quarterbacks not named Jay Cutler, however, and Smith has taken advantage in a couple good spots this season. He is a desperation option.
Recommendation: Desperation streaming option

Watch List: 
Sam Bradford has at least 37 attempts in each of the last four games and has topped 270 yards in the last two. Against Arizona with another new left tackle is not the place to use him, but he should be an option next week against the Lions…Ryan Tannehill played his best game of the season in the win over the Chargers, but he still only threw the ball 24 times. It is tough to see him getting in a shootout against the Rams, which keeps his fantasy upside in check. There are less safe options out there, however…Joe Flacco struggled to have a good fantasy day against the Browns and has not thrown for more than one touchdown against any team except Cleveland this season…Jay Cutler is terrible and still only threw the ball 30 times in a game the Bears were blown out…Brock Osweiler is not good at football, and the Raiders have been improving on defense…Case Keenum will continue his disastrous run as the quarterback, but there is little reason to use him against a quietly solid Dolphins defense…The Steelers defense is not very good, but neither is Cody Kessler.


RUNNING BACKS
1. Rob Kelley, Redskins – Owned in 48 percent of Yahoo leagues
I grossly misjudged this situation over the last two weeks. Even with Matt Jones healthy following the bye, Kelley was the clear lead back. Jones did not even dress for the game as a healthy scratch. While he is not a special runner, Kelley is a solid back who is going to get what is blocked – he has lost yardage on just 2-of-60 attempts this season – and hold onto the football. The same cannot be said for Jones. Kelley looks poised to keep this job the rest of the season. Even against a terrible schedule, he should be able to return value on volume alone.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues

2. James Starks, Packers – Owned in 27 percent of Yahoo leagues
Starks was expected to have a role after coming back from knee surgery, but it was shocking to see him operate as the clear lead back in a game the Packers were losing from literally the fifth play on. Starks played 71 percent of the snaps while Ty Montgomery was limited to 28 percent of the plays, and Starks out-touched Montgomery 10-to-5. If this was the usage while Green Bay was being blown out in Starks’ first game back from injury, it is tough to argue Starks will be anything but the clear lead moving forward.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues

3. C.J. Prosise, Seahawks – Owned in 35 percent of Yahoo leagues
4. Thomas Rawls, Seahawks – Owned in 48 percent of Yahoo leagues
While Prosise dominated work on Sunday night, handling 77 percent of the snaps and turning 24 touches into 153 total yards, the situation in Seattle is about to change dramatically. Rawls is going to return this week, and that throws a serious wrench into what could have been a big stretch run for Prosise. Still, the rookie looks like the fantasy back to own in Seattle. Rawls will at best steal the early-down work from Christine Michael, and it remains possible they share the load. Prosise is going to remain the passing-down back regardless, and the Seahawks have morphed into a pass-first offense. Since Prosise returned to the lineup, Russell Wilson has dropped back to throw 148 times while Seattle’s backs have combined for just 63 carries. Perhaps that gap shrinks with Rawls back, but Wilson and the passing game should remain the focal point. Both players deserve to be added, but Prosise has the better long-term role.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues

5. Jeremy Langford, Bears – Owned in 26 percent of Yahoo leagues
Valuing Langford is tough because of the mystery surrounding Jordan Howard’s injury. If Howard misses time, Langford will need to be owned in all leagues based on volume alone. He handled 31 touches the first two weeks as the lead back and could be in line for even more work in a conservative offense this time around. Howard might not even be injured, however, and the offense is a train wreck anyway. Langford will likely be overvalued on the wire.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

6. Kenneth Dixon, Ravens – Owned in 19 percent of Yahoo leagues
Dixon had his best game as a pro against the Browns, gaining 80 total yards on 11 touches. He now has 11 touches in back-to-back games. The problem is he is still slightly behind Terrance West, the offensive line was bad even before it lost two starters including its best player, and most defenses are not the Browns. Dixon remains a lower-end starter in a terrible year for running backs, but he will not have that much upside while West is still the lead ball carrier.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

7. Bilal Powell, Jets – Owned in 43 percent of Yahoo leagues
Powell has been playing clear second fiddle to Matt Forte as of late, but he has managed to put up some solid fantasy days even on limited touches, finishing as the RB12, RB32, and RB8 the last three weeks. The Jets are on bye this week, but he will have RB3/FLEX appeal even in a dysfunctional offense against the Patriots after the break.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues 

Handcuffs: As we near the end of the season, it makes more and more sense for good teams to handcuff their top running backs. Depth is not as important in a one-and-done format, and losing a star player with no contingency plan could cost a good team a shot at the title. With that in mind, here is an ordered list of the highest-upside handcuffs available in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues: Derrick Henry, Alfred Morris, Mike Gillislee, DuJuan Harris, Charcandrick West, Andre Ellington, Kapri Bibbs, Kenneth FarrowCameron Artis-PaynePeyton Barber, and Alfred Blue

Watch List: Paul Perkins never had much upside, and Rashad Jennings might have taken control of the backfield Monday night. Perhaps most tellingly, the Giants turned to Jennings to close out the game in the fourth quarter, and he got the job done…The Bucs expect Charles Sims to return this season, but he is not eligible to play until Week 13, and there has not been any news on his recovery. He is not yet worth stashing even in deeper leagues, but he is a name to watch…Kapri Bibbs did not see the big jump in snaps some were predicting, but he did get seven carries. He is still the clear No. 2…Peyton Barber got 12 carries with the Bucs dominating late, but he was the clear No. 2 with Doug Martin healthy. That gap should only grow wider as Martin rounds back into form…After flashing some standard-league value, Chris Thompson has 77 total yards the last two weeks. He is a PPR option at best…DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard have roles behind Latavius Murray, but they are not large enough to give them consistent fantasy value.

Deep Cuts: Wendell Smallwood saw 13 carries with the Eagles executing a ball-control offense, but he still played fewer snaps than Darren Sproles and Ryan Mathews. Smallwood had a similar explosion in Week 3, but he had just 11 carries total in the next five games. Unless something happens to Mathews, it is tough to see Smallwood getting consistent enough carries to retain any value outside of deeper leagues…Akeem Hunt flashed some explosiveness last season, and we saw it again in his first action this year. Alfred Blue is the handcuff for Lamar Miller, but Hunt would likely have a role if the starter went down…Damien Williams somehow has four touchdowns in the last four games, but those are sure to dry up soon…Ronnie Hillman is the No. 3 option in easily the worst rushing attack in the league…Dwayne Washington was the guy behind Theo Riddick before the bye, but Zach Zenner had that honor the week before. Riddick is the only trustworthy member of the backfield…If something is wrong with Jordan Howard, Ka’Deem Carey could carve out a role.

WIDE RECEIVERS
1. Cameron Meredith, Bears – Owned in 31 percent of Yahoo leagues
The biggest beneficiary of Alshon Jeffery’s suspension is clearly Meredith, but the real question is how much upside does he really have? Jeffery finished inside the top 24 just three times in nine games and found the end zone just once playing ostensibly the same role as Meredith, and Jeffery is a better player. The offense simply does not score enough to create a ton of fantasy value. Chicago has topped 17 points just twice, has yet to surpass 23, and has 13 total offensive touchdowns. Meredith is worth picking up everywhere because of the volume, but expectations should be tempered.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues

2. Michael Floyd, Cardinals – Owned in 45 percent of Yahoo leagues
3. J.J. Nelson, Cardinals – Owned in 48 percent of Yahoo leagues
Nelson did start opposite Larry Fitzgerald against the 49ers as coach Bruce Arians promised, but not much went to plan after that. Nelson fumbled the ball early in the game and had another pass bounce off his hands and into the arms of Eric Reid in the third quarter. The mistakes led to some time on the bench and Floyd playing 10 more snaps than Nelson on the way to his best game of the season. John Brown also was involved, but he was clearly the No. 4 option. With all of the uncertainty in this receiver corps, it is difficult to pin down who will carry the value from week-to-week, but Floyd and Nelson have the upside to make them adds in most leagues with Floyd the slight favorite in the rankings.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

4. Tyreek Hill, Chiefs – Owned in 16 percent of Yahoo leagues
Hill did not see a massive bump in snaps with Jeremy Maclin sidelined, but he ended up pacing the team with 13 targets against the Panthers. He only managed 89 yards on 10 catches and now is averaging just 10.1 yards per catch this season, but he has the big-play ability to bust a long gain at any time. He should keep getting targets if Maclin sits again this week, and he has become a part of the offense regardless of Maclin’s status. In a solid matchup against the Bucs, Hill will have WR3 appeal even in shallower leagues if Maclin is out.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

5. Sammy Watkins, Bills – Owned in 37 percent of Yahoo leagues
The news was not great on Watkins this week, with Rex Ryan revealing he has not yet been cleared to practice. The Bills have seemed optimistic about his return, however, and all Watkins costs is a roster spot. That might be too high a price to pay for teams still fighting for the playoffs, but Watkins’ potential upside in a great playoff schedule makes him worth the almost free investment for playoff-bound teams. He is much more likely to return a league-winning performance than someone like Dontrelle Inman.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

6. Tyler Lockett, Seahawks – Owned in 40 percent of Yahoo leagues
Picking up Lockett requires a leap of faith after he topped 70 yards for just the second time this season against the Patriots, but there is a chance the tide is turning for the second-year receiver. His snap percentage has leveled off at around 60 percent, but he has finally looked healthy in recent weeks and had his most targets since Week 1 on Sunday night. With Seattle running a more pass-heavy attack, Lockett could be ready for an explosion, and it makes sense to get in on the upside early. Lockett will not be worth starting against the Eagles this week, but he is a great stash-and-see for playoff teams.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

7. Ted Ginn, Panthers – Owned in 18 percent of Yahoo leagues
Ginn has not had the explosion yet this season, but he has five catches in four consecutive games and is averaging just over seven targets during that stretch. He has also seen his snap percentage rise all the way to 74 percent last week and received his first two red-zone targets of the season the last two weeks. All of that suggests the big game could be around the corner, and there is no better time for a breakout than Thursday night against the Saints. He could prove a great one-week option.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

8. Robert Woods, Bills – Owned in 15 percent of Yahoo leagues
Woods had a career game against the Seahawks before the bye, but he had been a 50-yard player before the explosion. Perhaps the Seattle game is a beacon of things to come, but Woods has a very long history of middling performances in Buffalo. He will be a low-upside WR3 type in deeper leagues this week against the Bengals.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

9. Eli Rogers, Steelers – Owned in 10 percent of Yahoo leagues
Rogers followed up his improbable 100-yard game with an improbable touchdown against the Cowboys on Sunday. Rogers was heavily used in the red zone against Dallas for the first time since his last touchdown in Week 1, however, and now has 15 total targets in the last two weeks. With low yardage upside, Rogers remains a better bet in PPR formats, but the lack of healthy and competent receivers in Pittsburgh should ensure he continues to get targets.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

Watch List: Pierre Garcon will be worth a look if DeSean Jackson sits out again this week…Eddie Royal should benefit from Alshon Jeffery’s suspension, but it is difficult to much stock in that offense…Dontrelle Inman could return deep-league value after the bye if Travis Benjamin remains sidelined, but he would remain a low-upside option. That is not worth holding through a bye in a standard league…Adam Humphries has established a 50-yard floor, but he has not shown much more upside than that even with Vincent Jackson out…Chris Hogan could get some more targets with Rob Gronkowski sidelined, but he has been a hit-or-miss deep threat all season…Kendall Wright and Tajae Sharpe both caught a touchdown, but Wright continues to play limited snaps and Sharpe has not proven to be very good…Brandon LaFell has four targets total the last two games…Devin Funchess does not have a big enough role to be a viable option even in a good matchup…Kenny Stills caught a long touchdown, but he is not going to see enough opportunities to be a consistent option in a run-first offense…Cordarrelle Patterson looked to be developing a role, but he has fallen off as of late

Deep Cuts: Cobi Hamilton only saw one target, but he played over 90 percent of the snaps with Sammie Coates in the dog house…Taylor Gabriel only managed one catch against the Eagles, but he made it count with a 76-yard touchdown. He has 13 total targets the last three games…Marquess Wilson is still on the PUP, but he started practicing last week. He could have a role with Alshon Jeffery suspended…Dorial Green-Beckham was not targeted against the Falcons. This is not going to happen. Bryce Treggs also went without a target…Marqise Lee continues to return value in PPR leagues…Coach Rex Ryan said Percy Harvin is going to be more than a decoy, but it is still difficult to see him developing fantasy value after sitting out the entire season…Adam Thielen caught a touchdown, but he had his fewest targets since Week 4…Tyler Boyd almost had his first touchdown, but he has now gone over 40 yards just twice this season…Albert Wilson saw seven targets with Jeremy Maclin out and would again be an option in deep PPR leagues if Maclin sits this week…Breshad Perriman flashed his talent on the first touchdown of his career, but he still does not have a consistent enough role…Robby Anderson might be the No. 2 in New York, but who even cares?…Quinton Patton has nine targets in back-to-back games. It is not worth trusting anyone in the 49ers’ attack in a standard-sized league, but Patton is worth a look in deeper formats.

TIGHT ENDS
1. C.J. Fiedorowicz, Texans – Owned in 21 percent of Yahoo leagues
Fiedorowicz was maddeningly vultured by both Ryan Griffin and Stephen Anderson against the Jaguars, but he still finished second on the team with five targets. This week he gets a Raiders defense which has been gracious to tight ends all season. He is easily the best option on the board.
Recommendation: Streaming option in 10-team leagues

2. Will Tye, Giants – Owned in 1 percent of Yahoo leagues
Tye was vultured by Jerell Adams, but he once again dominated the tight end snaps and finished second on the team with eight targets. He now has 15 targets in his last two games. Tye proved last year he can produce when given targets, and it looks like he is going to get them down the stretch. Even in a tough matchup, he is worth streaming against the Bears.
Recommendation: Streaming option in 12-team leagues

3. Jack Doyle, Colts – Owned in 36 percent of Yahoo leagues
For some reason my brain had decided the Colts were playing the Jaguars this week, but they have a much better matchup against the Titans, who have given up the third-most catches to tight ends this season. That makes Doyle, who had nine targets even with Dwayne Allen back before the bye and converted a key third down late in the game, a decent streaming option. He is certainly the better play of the two.
Recommendation: Streaming option in 12-team leagues

4. Vernon Davis, Redskins – Owned in 6 percent of Yahoo leagues
Even with Jordan Reed healthy, Davis has had a role, playing around 50 percent of the snaps and seeing eight targets total the last two games. The Packers have struggled against tight ends this season including being bullied by Delanie Walker last week. With DeSean Jackson looking iffy to play, Davis should remain involved and has some low-end streamer appeal.
Recommendation: Streaming option in 14-team leagues

5. Lance Kendricks, Rams – Owned in 18 percent of Yahoo leagues
Kendricks busted in a big way with one catch for zero yards against the Jets, but he had been consistently seeing around eight targets a game before last week. Those looks should return in a decent matchup against the Dolphins, making Kendricks a low-floor streamer. He is a much better option in PPR formats.
Recommendation: Streaming option in 14-team leagues

Watch List: Doyle is the better play, but Dwayne Allen is a touchdown-or-bust option for desperate streamers…Jesse James caught the longest pass of his career (24 yards) late to give him a respectable game, but he was headed for yet another sub-50-yard game against the Cowboys. With Ladarius Green set to take on more work, James cannot be trusted even in a great matchup against the Browns, and Green cannot be used after playing just 12 snaps in his first game with the Steelers…Vance McDonald’s four catches against the Cardinals were his most in a game this season, and the Patriots are good against tight ends…Charles Clay has 15 yards total the last two games…Jared Cook will likely return this week, but he did not have more than 31 yards in a game before going down…If Dennis Pitta is not going to score a touchdown against the Browns, he is not going to score a touchdown.

DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS

1. Oakland Raiders – Owned in 32 percent of Yahoo leagues
Oakland has been playing much better defense of late, but it has yet to really translate into a big fantasy day. That could change against Brock Osweiler.

2. Miami Dolphins – Owned in 17 percent of Yahoo leagues
Miami has been getting a good amount of pressure on the quarterback and their hands on the ball lately including four picks against Philip Rivers. They get a date with the Rams this week.

3. New York Giants – Owned in 11 percent of Yahoo leagues
The Titans are another option, but they struggled the last time the faced the Colts. New York has come on strong in recent weeks, and Jay Cutler has been terrible.

Looking Ahead: The Chargers have been forcing turnovers for fun lately, and they get a date with Brock Osweiler following the bye week.

KICKERS
1. Matt Prater, Lions – Owned in 11 percent of Yahoo leagues
Jacksonville has consistently faced among the most kicks in the league, and Prater gets them at home.

2. Nick Novak, Texans – Owned in 21 percent of Yahoo leagues
Novak has been one of the best fantasy kickers in the league, and the Raiders entered the weekend eighth in kicks allowed.

3. Chris Boswell, Steelers – Owned in 44 percent of Yahoo leagues
Boswell has been up and down with the offense struggling, but he should start to get more opportunities as Ben Roethlisberger gets healthier. Cleveland is a good place to get the ship turned around.

Looking Ahead: With a trip to the Indianapolis on deck in Week 12, Boswell is a fine two-week add.

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